Some of us wake up, look at the clock and realise that although it would be nice to sit down to have a healthy, mindful breakfast, the morning rush simply doesn’t allow it. A cup of coffee, a piece of bland, dry toast and out the door. Others simply pick up something on the way to work or skip breakfast altogether. Is breakfast such an important meal after all? Can’t we make up for skipping breakfast during our other meals?
The answer I’m afraid is not that straightforward. Are you skipping breakfast because you haven’t got the time, because you are simply not hungry or because you want to lose weight? Let’s take a look at what the latest research has revealed in connection to what has been labelled in the past as “the most important meal of the day”.
For growing children, there is no doubt breakfast is an essential meal. For adults, the jury is still out.
Having a healthy breakfast has a number of health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, those who regularly eat a healthy and mindful breakfast enjoy brain-boosting powers, enhanced immune system, heart health, improved skin, stabilised energy levels, reduced risk of eating disorders, weight control, and longevity.
In the case of short-term fasting, some researchers suggest that fasting diets that involve taking no food between dinner and lunch the next day brings benefits to the digestive system (allowing time to flush away unwanted toxins), potentially help with weight loss and cholesterol levels. Not all researchers, however, are convinced that short-term fasting benefits outweigh its risks across the board.
Skipping breakfast has been consistently associated with triggering increased hyperglycaemia (an excess of sugar in the bloodstream). Other research shows that if you experience stress when fasting (given the fact that fasting is a potentially stressful state for the body) prolonging the fast by not eating when you wake up, amplifies the stress and may lead to heart disease and other serious health conditions typically associated to stress.
Given that there are positive and negative implications to skipping breakfast, my suggestion to you is to always pay attention to how you feel both in the short-term and the long-term whenever you are making adjustments to your eating habits or strategies. Also, have the following recommendations in mind:
1.-Listen to your body’s hunger cues. Bring awareness to your eating decision-making process. On a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being famished and 10 being completely sated), for optimal mind-body performance, it’s probably wise to eat when your appetite reaches 2 or 3 and stop eating when you get to 7. This rule applies not only to breakfast, but to all meals in general.
2.-Keep it light. If you do decide to have breakfast and want to avoid energy drops in the morning, make a conscientious effort to limit your intake of sugar, fat and excess calories. A veggie or fruit juice/smoothie, oatmeal (porridge), dairy, wholewheat toast, nuts and eggs are options you could consider if you want to feel naturally alert and sharp.
3.-Keep it conscious. If you do decide to skip breakfast once in a while to test the potential benefits of short-period fasting, be aware of how you feel throughout the day. If you feel like ransacking a vending machine mid-morning to satisfy your hunger, you can kiss your productive day and weight management objectives goodbye.
4.- Don’t fool yourself. If you are skipping breakfast simply because you haven’t got the time (even though you are hungry), then the stress factor will kick-in, leading you to perhaps become exasperating and marring your decision making abilities due to your discomfort and irritable state of mind.
5.-Ask for supervision. If you want to take this fasting business seriously and for prolonged periods of time, make sure you consult with expert nutritionists and medical doctors before you embark on these experiments.